Saturday, August 9, 2014

Class Dojo in 3rd Grade: What This Classroom Management Tool Looks Like

In my previous teaching experience I used to use pocket charts with cards to flip, clothespins to move kiddos up and down based on behavior, popsicle sticks for rewards, tickets, beans, and classroom bucks. I've had more management systems than I have years of experience, and some of them were amazing, and others got tossed because they weren't practical and caused me more of a headache than they were worth.

Last year I decided to take my personal iPad to school (our tech guru hooked me up to the school's wireless system) to use a free app called Class Dojo. It is a website that hooks up to an app you can use on your iPhone, Android, or tablet.

If you don't have a tablet or smartphone (or don't want to drain your battery) you can very easily use the website to track progress.

First you'll need to visit the website and create a classroom.

Start by signing up...

It is honestly one of the easiest websites to navigate in the history of ever.

Once you've logged in you will want to create a classroom. In this screenshot you can see my 2013-2014 classroom home screen. Feel free to play around in the Demo Class mode to get used to the controls and settings. 

After you create your classroom you can adjust your settings, get reports, and add points to students. 

This is a screenshot of the reports page

You can easily adjust the time frame (by day, week, month, or the entire year). I can print a report for a single student, or the entire class. The reports highlight positive and negative behaviors and can be used as any kind of incentive you wish.

We all know that at some point we will have a student that needs to use a daily behavior sheet. Class Dojo can easily be printed daily and sent home without much additional information or attention from you.

You can choose whether to display positive points only next to student's names, positive and negative points, or no points at all. Personally I eliminated the kids seeing anyone else's points on the SmartBoard because I didn't need the whining competition between kids, but some teachers find this extremely helpful in dealing with the students. 

At the beginning of the year the students and I sit down to make our list of positive points and negative points. This replaces our typical list of "classroom rules" and the kids really take ownership of what would count as a positive point and what would go in the "needs work" area. I think it's humorous that the kids are often harder on themselves than I am on them. 

I make an anchor chart of the behaviors to remind kiddos as we go through the year and they ignore forget the rules. 

Each and every positive behavior has a negative consequence so that each and every time you open the Class Dojo app/website you are able to give a positive point or a negative point. I didn't want to waste my time or the kids time by not being able to have anything to assign them each time I walked around.

The app is great because you can assign points to multiple students at one time, as well as take attendance. I have parents that know exactly how their child did before they get off of the bus.

Okay, great, but how do I use this as an incentive?

Homework passes are a massive deal in my classroom. They have rules, of course, but the kids work like heck to acquire them so they don't have to worry about an assignment when they have softball practice. 

I announce at the beginning of every month {although my goal this year is to do it every two weeks} the positive % students need to have for that time period in order to earn a homework pass. 

I generally start with 80%, which everyone is generally able to get. Each time I bump it up a little and the kids work pretty hard to acquire a pass.

I love this because it is so easy to reward those little good behaviors that you may have a hard time acknowledging otherwise, and did I mention how easy it is for the teacher to manage? I love being lazy productive. 

P.S. The app/website also makes an awesome *ding* sound when kids earn a positive point and a sad little 'womp womp' when they lose points. It is the best Pavlov reinforcer I have ever used!

Have you used Class Dojo? What do you think?